Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Canada’s 2006 dream team entry in Olympic men’s hockey will leave Italy without a medal. And so begins our nation’s hockey navel gazing. Because we care so much, we have to know what went wrong. To that end, there are plenty of theories. Fatigue from inactivity during the lockout. Bigger ice surface. Too many banged up players. Too old. Poor coaching. No leadership. Not used to the trap. Not enough hitting. Where are Staal and Crosby?
Dissecting such a poor overall performance is part of the deal. (We lost to Switzerland? Shutout three times in 6 games?) The entire tournament was a disaster.
But, as I listen to the Team 1200 online tonight, the fan outrage and scolding is starting to turn my stomach. Too many are incredulous, asking “What was Wayne thinking? How could he do this? How could he do that?” The implication seems to be that some fans saw this coming a mile away. Before you fall into that trap, ask yourself these questions first.
Do I know more about what goes into making a great hockey team than Wayne Gretzky?
Did I second guess and rage at Gretzky’selections the day they were announced?
Did all the guys that would have been on your roster play up to par in this tournament?
Do you know, for a fact, that your replacements wouldn’t have played worse than Gretzky’s mistakes?
I think when you realize the answer to all those questions is no, it helps lend perspective. It doesn’t lessen the disappointment, of course. Mistakes were made and crap happened. It was awful. In fact, it was so awful this entire team must have been struck with the same stomach virus that hit our women curlers.
But spare us the after-the-fact outrage. Most of you didn’t have all the answers from day one. You only have answers now. And some of your answers are still wrong.
Maybe hockey fans need to take a page from NASCAR. Instead of bemoaning news of a falling sky, drivers will often explain what went wrong with a shrug and say, “Oh well. That’s racin’.”
You had two great teams today. Russia cashed in on one of their rare chances. Canada didn’t. Joe Sakic hit a post. Joe Thornton jammed one in just after the whistle blew. Brad Richards appeared to turn down a shot at a nearly empty net at the end of the game.
We didn't medal in ’98 and thought the hockey apocalypse was upon us. Everything was ruined. Everyone was to blame. How could Rob Zamuner be on this team but not Mark Messier? Canada’s no good. Run for your lives. .
In our next attempt, four years later, we won it all and Canadians said, “Oh. Never mind. Forget all that stuff I said earlier. Wooooooooooooo-hoooooo! Wayne for Prime Minister!”
This terribly chosen, terribly performing, terribly coached team could easily have beaten a dynamite Russian team today. It didn’t come together this time. We’ll spend a long time debating why. But the best answer may be this: The best teams on paper sometimes stink at the wrong time and there isn’t always a reason for it.
Posted by Steve Warne at 9:40 PM